Burkina Faso’s military announced a military coup on Jan. 24, saying it has removed President Roch Marc Kabore from power, suspended the constitution, dissolved the government and closed the country’s borders.
The announcement came a day after heavy gunfire and fighting was reported near the presidential residence in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, and at several military barracks in the country.
There was no mention of Kabore’s whereabouts in the statement on state TV. Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, the commander of one of the country’s three military regions, declared himself Burkina Faso’s new leader.
Damiba is a highly trained soldier who participated in at least six U.S. training exercises, according to U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM. The U.S. military has a long record of training soldiers in Africa who go on to stage coups, The Intercept reported.
President Kabore was elected in November 2015 in the wake of a revolution that got rid of the previous authoritarian regime. He was re-elected to a second term five years later, in what was called a broadly fair and genuinely democratic contest.
The army and Damiba announced the takeover by a previously unknown group called the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration (MPSR).
The coup leader cited deterioration of the country’s security and what the army described as Kabore’s inability to unite the West African nation and effectively respond to challenges.
Increased Islamist insurgency has left thousands dead and millions of people displaced in Burkina Faso.
“MPSR, which includes all sections of the army, has decided to end President Kabore’s post today,” the coup leader said in a statement. The coup comes a week after 11 soldiers were arrested for allegedly plotting to overthrow President Kabore.
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Hundreds of people came out in support of the military coup over the weekend and some set fire to the former ruling party’s headquarters. The government declared a curfew until further notice and closed schools for two days.
The coup in Burkina Faso followed successful coups in Guinea, where soldiers removed President Alpha Conde in September after he pursued an extra-constitutional third term, and in Mali, where a group of colonels seized power in august 2020.
The military of Sudan seized power in October 2021 and Chad’s military pulled off a coup in 2021 as well after the death of President Idriss Deby.
Photo: A man holds a portait of Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba who has taken the reins of the country in Ouagadougou Tuesday Jan. 25, 2022. people took to the streets in Burkina Faso to rally in support of the new military junta that ousted democratically elected President Roch Marc Christian Kabore and seized control of the country.(AP Photo/Sophie Garcia)